Jets fans got to enjoy some longshot backups make a handful of plays in the team’s 24-16 comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons while the starters looked flat once again.
In fairness to the Jets, they benched a fair number of their starters right out of the gate but failing to find the end zone in the first half against a team like the Atlanta Falcons is hardly encouraging.
Gang Green finished the first half trailing 16-3 before the backups and the backups to the backups started making things happen.
For the second week in a row, quarterback Chris Streveler led the comeback as he showed quick decision making, accuracy and the ability to make plays with his legs. Streveler has dramatically improved his chances to stick around in recent weeks.
So who else stood out other than Streveler?
Linebacker Jamien Sherwood looked solid once again after a strong debut that we mentioned here last week. Sherwood finished with four tackles in limited play, one of which was a run stuff at the line of scrimmage. Sherwood also showed up in coverage. Meanwhile, second-year defensive lineman Jonathan Marshall picked up a sack after being quiet on just 10 snaps last week. Waiver wire addition Bradlee Anae made one of the plays of the game when he forced a fumble on a sack that he picked up himself and ran back for a touchdown.
Staying on the defensive side of the ball, it’s time to put Tanzel Smart on the 53-man roster. We talked quite a bit about how he deserved to make it last season and he continues to impress. May have had the single best effort of the night on a play in which he almost had a running back wrapped up in the backfield before the quarterback completed the handoff.
On offense, converted tight end Lawrence Cager scored on a 34-yard catch and run from Streveler and has made a very strong case for making this roster. Along with Cager, running back LaMical Perine found the end zone on a short run but is still unlikely to stick. Wide receiver Denzel Mims had three receptions and one drop that was intercepted. The drop however, came on a ball that was batted by a defender before getting to Mims in a steady rain as another defender arrived and crashed in to Mims. Make of that what you will.
Where the Jets came up short however was in the defensive secondary where they allowed at least four chunk plays to the Falcons passing game without a defender in the area. Pre-season or not, that’s a bad look and head coach Robert Saleh acknowledged as much. The head coach said the team has to do a better job of keeping their eyes in the right spot to avoid explosive plays.
Losing because you’re not playing your starters is one thing. Having backups who don’t know where they’re supposed to be is another.